There’s no point in being embarrassed about it, really; they’ve been the sporadic bane of my life for the best part of a decade now. Sometimes, they shrink to almost nothing, and life can go on normally; but at other times, they swell to an enormous size, and impact severely on my social life, because deal with them is about all you can do. If you ignore them, and hope they go away, they just get bigger. Sometimes I get friends to help me, but in the end, I’m the one who has to live with the problem, which is probably an inevitable result of my editorship.
Sorry, what was that? Ah… I’d better explain that I am, in fact, talking about piles of unwatched video tapes — what did you think I meant, inflamed rectal blood-vessels? Ew, gross… No, I mean the continued, looming presence beside the television set of things that have to be seen. It’s a feature of the living-room that grew out of necessity: if I don’t keep focussed on incoming tapes + laserdiscs, they will get stuck on the shelf and vanish into the crowd, never to be seen — and no “again” about it. But by keeping them in sight, and restricting my choices to them, I know that they will be seen at least once.
This is something of a mixed blessing, in that it’s both limits the choice, and makes it easier. On average, there’s maybe 20 titles in the pile, which is enough to give a broad spectrum of titles for every mood and company. On the rare occasions when I’ve flattened it totally, the enormous range of possibilities that exists if I have my entire collection to choose from, rather than a limited subset, is simply so paralysing that I usually end up going down the pub instead. Where do you start, when you’ve hundreds of titles to choose from? And that’s *after* you’ve already decided you fancy something from Hong Kong.
On the down side, the difference between the collection and the pile in quality is significant. I own films because I like them, enjoy them, and want to watch them again, not for any other reason. Movies in the pile may be there because I’ve bought them — or they may have been foisted on me by acquaintances, or review copies from video companies, and the quality of those is far less certain. It’s a big temptation to cherry-pick the best, but you have to exercise restraint, or else the average quality slowly declines. There are times when you can face what you know will be really bad, and there are times when you just can’t: you must learn to strike when the iron is hot, and the fridge full of beer.
The worst I recall was a spell when the TV was off being repaired, back in my previous home, in the days when this was a one television household: somewhere more than fifty tapes were accumulated by the time the set returned. Since then, they’ve been whittled away, and built up, rarely evaporating totally or getting out of control. But since I got TC out of the way, I’ve been able to make a serious assault on it [didn’t leave the house last weekend!], and at 6:57 pm, I finished watching “Yes Madam ’95”, the only outstanding item — though “outstanding” it wasn’t, being a particularly mediocre Hong Kong action film and perhaps a new low-water mark in Cynthia Khan’s career. That’s not important: what matters, is that the headline at the top is no longer accurate, although “I’ve not got piles” is a far less eye-catching title. Maybe it should have been “My piles have cleared up”?
I doubt it’ll last long, not with a dozen titles on order, but it’s probably worth documenting since it’s only the third time I remember it happening since I started TC back in 1989. Solar eclipses are everyday occurrences in comparison. And now, I’m going to watch… watch… oh, sod it — I’m off down the pub…